Stolen Syrup, Bob Marley and the Boyz on the Bus

Posted on September 7, 2012 6:00 pm

I saw in the news yesterday that a group of people dressed up to look like a bunch of giant vaginas was doing some kind of public performance.

But enough about Toronto FC.

They held an election in Quebec this week and the opposition Parti Quebecois has apparently won the right to form a government, albeit a minority one.

The basic platform of Le PQ, as you may know, holds that Quebec should declare its independence from the rest of those syrup-slurping fools they currently share a flag with.

Now I understand that the new government has no immediate plans to conduct another vote on Quebec independence, almost certainly because they would surely lose. In the past the proposition has gotten as much as 49% pf the vote, but at present it’s lucky to poll in the low 30′s.

Not to denigrate their ability to handle their own affairs or anything, but if you’re in charge of a warehouse where TEN MILLION GALLONS OF MAPLE SYRUP gets up and takes a hike some observers might question your ability to function as a full-fledged member of the brotherhood of nations.

(Just for the record, we’re not talking about that putrid corn fructose dreck that comes in a bottle shaped like a dumpy old woman, or even the cringe-inducing “Gee, it’s fun to cook breakfast for white people” Aunt Jemima stuff; this is the real deal, and Quebec is the OPEC of maple syrup. It’s as if the Saudis woke up one morning and discovered that 50 million barrels of Arab Light Crude had wandered off to Uganda.)

“Sacre bleu! 30% of our nuclear weapons have vanished!” is not what you want to hear from a neighbor, no matter how friendly they might be and, frankly, “friendly” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when one thinks about Les Quebecois.

(I know, I know, they don’t have any nukes up there and, honestly, aren’t you happy about this? The best they can do at present is rent some planes and dump Maple tree sap on us. Assuming they can locate it.)

Still, there’s no question that, should the situation change, they’d love to give it another go. In fact, the outgoing government campaigned heavily the last few weeks on the theory that the NHL would be unlikely to give Quebec “their beloved Nordiques” back (apparently they’re building a new $400 million arena for just that purpose) if there’s some question about the future nationality of the province.

They didn’t go so far as to claim that, in such an event, their even-more “beloved” Canadians might find themselves moving to Cleveland, Las Vegas or some other equally horrifying place.

And of course there was no mention of the Impact.

Would MLS be interested in adding a third country, thereby making the entire cross-border arrangement even more embarrassing than it already is?

Perhaps. As we all know, Don “Habanos” Garber isn’t easily embarrassed or he would have stopped speaking in public years ago, but be that as it may, I think this is a concept we should run with, and turn necessity into a virtue, a negative into a positive.

When you get lemons, you make silly faux-tropical rum drinks with little umbrellas.

Which brings us to tonight’s match with Jamaica.

There’s a little-noted fact about this particular set of games, and it’s just this:

JFF President Captain Horace Burrell, recently shafted by Jeff Webb and Sepp Blatter out of all the really cool stuff, is a Man on a Mission, and that mission, simply stated, is to replace the US as the #2 outfit in CONCACAF.

He has quietly been telling people that the US is past it, that Jamaica is the up-and-comer in the region and that he intends for the Americans, not Jamaica, to fight it out with the Central American zone for that third qually spot from now on.

To that end, he has raised a whole bunch of corporate money – the mother’s milk of international soccer – and has cranked up the training regimen, the number of games and the caliber of the facilities to the point that, while it may be a shade early for 2014, there’s no question that he means business and believes he can pull it off.

Now granted, some of his plans haven’t exactly worked out; for example, he wanted a tuneup in August in the US and got USSF permission to schedule Kenya in Connecticut, but had to cancel just two weeks prior to the match because they had only sold 135 tickets.

Some observers questioned who it was exactly he was going to use as players since, that not being a FIFA date, MLS coaches were not likely to be very happy about sending them the players, but he wanted to try anyway.

Point being that, even if they’re not quite ready, as far as Burrell is concerned all this “We’re coming to beat the US” stuff you’re hearing this week isn’t just bravado; he, and his federation, are dead serious.

What’s even more intriguing is that he is pushing players into MLS in order to do it. They see it as an intermediate step to getting more guys to Europe, but in the past Jamaican footballers have done their best to avoid MLS if they had any other options. Now, however, players with some choices are opting to come here first.

Indeed, Jamaica will bring more MLS players – 9 of them – into this set of games than the US (only 5) will. Coincidentally, Canada, playing Panama this weekend, is also bringing 9 MLS players to these matches.

In fact, only the injury to Donovan Ricketts kept Jamaica from bringing ten.

Now we all know that the reason Canada was allowed to enter teams into the United States of America’s First Division Professional Soccer League is because they are too small and backwards to have a league of their own. Fair enough.

But then what about Jamaica?

With a population base larger than Chicago’s, a total land area about the same as Connecticut and a national stadium with a statue of Bob Marley out front, plopping an MLS team there seems like a no-brainer.

Burrell has the money. Heck, he currently owns – in one way or another – 10 of the fourteen teams in what passes for a Division I league in Jamaica.

(It’s how he got to be President; the pro clubs are the only electors and a few years back, when they voted him out of office, he simple bought up the voters and held new elections.)

Point being, Jamaica is coming for us, and we need to be proactive and completely subvert them, like we have our neighbors to the North; a few years ago it looked like they were gearing up to pose a real threat to the US Men, but less than a decade in MLS has sucked the very soul out of them to the point that they call Sunil Gulati for permission to use the Men’s room.

We ought to do the same to The Reggae Boyz; annex their national program before they do the same to us.

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